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Calories in alcohol
Food and diet
Recipes and tips
Digestive health

Did you know a standard glass of wine can contain as many calories as a piece of chocolate, and a pint of lager has about the same number of calories as a packet of crisps? So, if you're trying to lose weight you need to think about what you are drinking as well as what you are eating.

Drinking 4 bottles of wine a month adds up to a yearly consumption of around 27,000kcal, which is equivalent to eating 48 Big Macs per year. Drinking 5 pints of lager each week adds up to 44,200kcal over a year, equivalent to eating 221 doughnuts.

Liquid calories

Drink Calories (kcal) Estimated food equivalent
standard 175ml glass of 12% wine 133kcal 3 Jaffa Cake biscuits
pint of 5% strength beer 239kcal 1 standard size Mars Bar
50ml glass of 17% cream liqueur 153kcal one standard size Wagon Wheel
standard 330ml bottle of 4% alcopop 172kcal 2 chocolate digestive biscuits
double measure (50ml) of 17.5% fortified wine 77kcal 10 jelly babies
double measure (50ml) of 40% gin 95kcal 1 standard size Milky Bar

You can find out the calorie content of many more drinks using the Drinkaware unit and calorie calculator.

Weight gain

Wine, beer, cider, spirits and many more of our favourite drinks are made from natural starch and sugar. Fermentation (and distillation for certain drinks) is used to produce the alcohol content.

This is why alcohol contains lots of calories – 7 calories per gram, which is almost as many as a gram of fat. Plus, additional calories can be in added mixer drinks, such as cola or tonic water.

Regularly drinking more than the NHS recommends can have a noticeable impact on your waistline and cause less obvious, but more serious, health problems.

Find out more about the recommended limit for alcohol units.

Tips to avoid weight gain:

  • Men and women are advised to not regularly drink more than 14 units a week.
  • Alternate an alcoholic drink with a glass of water – this will help to prevent you becoming dehydrated.
  • Do not drink on an empty stomach. If you do reach for snacks while drinking, choose a healthier option.
  • Drinking in rounds can mean you end up drinking more than you intended. Instead, drink at your own pace.
  • Try cutting down with a friend, as you'll be more likely to stick to it with moral support.
  • Eat a healthy dinner before you start drinking so you're not tempted to go for less healthy options later in the evening.
  • Pace yourself by taking small sips.
  • Avoid "binge drinking" – it's not advisable to "save up" your units to splurge at the weekend.
  • If you're drinking white wine, why not add a splash of soda water to help the same number of units last longer?

Find out more tips on cutting down your alcohol intake.